Doctor Strange is a mainstay of the Marvel Comics Universe. He has been since his creation in1963 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. His first appearance was in the aptly titled Strange Tales #110, although his origin was withheld until issue #115. Dr. Stephen Strange is a former neurosurgeon who is injured in an accident and can no longer perform surgery. He searches the world for anything that might fix his hands and allow him to continue his work. In the Himalayas he comes across a man known as The Ancient One and asks for his help. He is refused, due to his selfishness, but proves himself by selflessly stopping The Ancient One’s disciple, Baron Mordo, from killing the man. The Ancient One, suitably impressed, agrees to train the young man.
Strange eventually becomes the next Sorcerer Supreme of Earth and goes on to a long career as our planet’s protector. Through the years he has had many solo series, many team series including decades with The Defenders, and more recently he has become a regular in The Avengers. He is currently a member of the current New Avengers, who are also known as The Illuminati. He was very much short-changed in the recent Avengers summer epic, Infinity, as he was mind-controlled early on by Ebony Maw, a member of Thanos’ Cull Obsidian. He was never really a factor in any of the fighting. Disappointing really!
The good news for fans of Doctor Strange should take heart though. It seems that the good Doctor’s future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is bright. Many are speculating that, as we approach what Marvel is calling Phase 3, Doctor Strange could be the focal point going forward. It makes sense. Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark has arguably been the focal point of Phase 1. He’s had three Iron Man movies, was a recurring force through the other movies in gathering the heroes, and very much a leader in The Avengers. He recently signed for two more pictures as Stark which will include Avengers: Age of Ultron, and likely Avengers 3 (as yet untitled). What happens after that? Many think Doctor Strange will come to the forefront and lead the MCU through Phase 3 and into the future.
What that future holds could very well depend on the casting of the Sorcerer Supreme himself. The MCU could go in many different directions depending on who they get and how many films they are willing to commit to. The could go to a more supernatural theme and introduce The Defenders, bringing with them a whole crop of new faces including Nighthawk, Valkyrie, Hellcat, among others. This team has even boasted the Hulk, The Silver Surfer, and Namor at times. The MCU could stick with a proven winner with The Avengers. You could swap Doctor Strange for Tony Stark/Iron Man and introduce The Avengers: Illuminati story lines. Both are very viable options and have characters that are already established in the MCU and a plethora of new ones to drive Marvel into Phase 4 and beyond.
As I said though the key is in the casting. That casting has been going on for five years already and continues to be bandied about on a regular basis. In 2009 it all started with a rumor that Patrick Dempsey (Grey’s Anatomy) had met with Marvel Studios about Doctor Strange. He certainly has the look, the appeal to women, and while he is not an actual Doctor he does play one (kinda) on television. Just a few weeks ago it was reported everywhere including my weekly Nerd Bytes Movie Round-Up, that Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean, Lone Ranger) had taken a meeting with Marvel Studios to discuss Doctor Strange. This rumor was quickly squelched by everyone involved but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen! Now, this week it has been reported by This is Infamous that Jon Hamm will play the Sorcerer Supreme. They claim this is an exclusive but are careful to note that everyone involved has refused to answer their calls, let alone confirm or deny.
So assuming that Patrick Dempsey, Johnny Depp, and Jon Hamm are all viable candidates, and since they are not confirmed, let’s have some fun and see who else might work in the role. TIMOTHY OLYPHANT (Justified, Hitman) is hot right now. He certainly could pull off the role. He has the look, minus the cowboy attire in his current role and could certainly commit long-term if needed. Justified wont go on forever, although I hope it does. Maybe you want your Doctor Strange to be annoying, have a frightening bedside manner and an ego that matches the power of a Master of the Mystic Arts. If that’s the case, how about HUGH LAURIE (House MD)? I really hope he’s not a candidate. He doesn’t have the look, demeanor or appeal that a potential front-line character in the MCU would need.
If you want class, poise and demeanor, then your candidate might be PIERCE BROSNAN (Mamma Mia, Goldeneye). You can’t get a more distinguished,straight-laced version than this guy would provide. I’m just not sure that he would be willing to give the time commitment needed if Doctor Strange does become the focal character for the future of the MCU. If you want my personal choice, and yes, I am aware that nobody asked for it, I would go with MATT BOMER (Chuck, White Collar). He has it all. He’s got the look, the acting chops and I favor the lesser known actors for these characters. He’s young and will likely be able to commit long-term. Oh, and the ladies seem fond of him, and Marvel Studios would love to keep the ladies coming to their movies.
I have the utmost confidence in Marvel Studios to do what it takes to put their best foot forward, especially if the future of the MCU is so tied to this character. Regardless who ends up getting the job, and current rumors do favor Jon Hamm, the script, direction, and acting will all have to be top-notch to stay in line with what Marvel Studios has brought to date. Check out our weekly Nerd Bytes for updates on this story and everything else you need to know!